Outlaws: Songs of Robbers, Rustlers, and Rogues is like having someone sing you a book of stories. “John Hardy,” “Sam Bass,” “Cole Younger” and “Jesse James” are all song titles that remind the listener of hours spent reading and researching Western history.
Gardner, author of To Hell on a Fast Horse, a marvelous dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, is obviously having lots of fun bringing you the not-so-accurate stories of these outlaw legends. (As he points out in his liner notes, “The truth is seldom as much fun as the myth.”) None of it is more fun than “The Finger of Billy the Kid,” a song sharing how the Kid’s trigger finger ended up in a jar. Our fascination with the outlaws of the Old West is only intensified by Gardner’s fine CD, which will no doubt drive many right back to the history books.
—Marvin O’Dell, founder of Musikode Productions